29 December 2010

Wednesday Football: In a blizzard. Uphill. Both ways.

Why, when I was a teenager, I did all my calculus homework on a slide rule.  Outside, while walking two miles through a meter of snow to my school-bus stop.  Uphill, both ways.

That statement is silly, of course, but not much more ridiculous than Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell's ill-considered criticism of this week's postponement of the Vikings-Eagles game.  For me, broadly speaking, it's what Tom Kinslow said over at Bleacher Report.  And that's as many column millimeters as I want to blow on this.

2010 fantasy football wrap:  Well, the third time was indeed the charm, and that was bad news for the Fluttering Horde.  I did what I could, and even made up for Andre Johnson's last minute injury, but my running backs and tight end failed me.  Even if they hadn't, Anything But Last had just too much firepower.  After beating ABL twice during the regular season, the Horde lost the league championship, 122-96.  Still, for a team that never got two decent running backs together all season long, and finished 9-7, I'm pretty freakin' happy.  More importantly, it got me a 3:1 payoff and fantasy silver.  Yay, Horde!

The Middlemen also finished 9-7, pounding the Juken' Jockstraps, 127-68, in its fifth-place game.

My most valuable players:
  • For the Fluttering Horde:  For the second year in a row, St. Louis wideout Danny Amendola saved my skin.  At the beginning of the year, the Rams tried to make him a full-time receiver, so I didn't draft him.  Soon enough, though, the Rams made him their lead kick returner.  I picked him up, and he delivered 10-18 points week in and week out.  No one was more reliable.
  • For the Middlemen:  Chicago running back Matt Forte also gave me solid numbers every week, even as everyone else on the team, including the much-ballyhooed Chris Johnson, sputtered.
I'm going to try to get them both next year.

25 December 2010

Hoping your Christmas Day is going well

Well, here at the edge of Chicagoland, we've been treated to another white Christmas.  All the snow came yesterday during a day-long shower.  It's pretty enough, but the temperature is right around the freezing point of water.  The show on the streets iced up, so even walking got slippery this morning.

Oh, well.  It's Christmas, and we didn't have plans to go out.  The salt can wait until tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

21 December 2010

Tuesday Football: Happy returns

On a landmark week for kick returners, it makes sense to debate which spectacular return was the week's best:
My vote is obvious:  in only one of these cases did someone go through the trouble to simulate the play on the glorious Tecmo Super Bowl game.  Enjoy!

After the actual play, the FOX cameras panned onto Giants coach Tom Coughlin, yelling at his punter. While the ball should've been kicked out of bounds, no team should ever be punting in the closing seconds of a close game.  To his credit, Coughlin didn't fire his punter, so he probably realizes that he deserves blame for leaving his team to punt that way in the first place.

Fantasy football update:  Sometimes, the last minute of a real game directly affects a fantasy game.   With Green Bay driving for a winning touchdown Sunday night, the Fluttering Horde led its semifinal match by only 2.4 points. A Packer touchdown would have cost the Horde three points and the game.   Instead, the Patriots' defense came up with two sacks (+2 points each) and the game-ending fumble recovery (+2).

Final score: Fluttering Horde, 103; Southside Hitmen, 95. The Horde advanced to 9-6 and a date with Anything But Last. I've already beaten ABL twice, but this one is for the league championship.

The Middlemen got a break when Adrian Peterson suddenly bowed out of last night's blowout loss to Chicago.  Without Peterson, the Warriors didn't have enough to rally.  Their 116-102 win puts the 8-7 Middlemen into the fifth-place game against the Jukin' Jockstraps.  The good news is that Michael Vick will again lead the Middlemen.

The bad news is that Vick will also be leading ABL.  Peyton Manning had better be on his best behavior.

14 December 2010

Tuesday Football: Where every seat is cheap

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! (FOX Sports)
Sensational as it is, Sunday's failure of the stadium roof in Minneapolis points to some rather disturbing facts.  In the first place, this is not the first time the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome roof has collapsed under a lot of snow.  After the third one in 1983, and a wind-related failure in 1986, Metrodome officials made some technical fixes to strengthen the roof system.  Unfortunately, it now appears that the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the body that maintains the stadium, may have ignored warnings about the fiberglass roof itself.  Replacing the roof would cost 12-15 million dollars, and I wonder whether the MSFC just thought that investment was too expensive.  The answer to that question doesn't matter now, I suppose.

But stop and think about this:  According the the people who designed and built it, the roof has "has exceeded its service life of 20 years."  Seriously?  The good people of the Twin Cities spent tens of millions of dollars on something that with a lifetime of only 20 years?  Just to keep an effing sports team?

That question also occurred to the folks over at Treehugger, who noted that the Metrodome was built both quickly and cheaply.   I had always wondered why the Pontiac Silverdome, once home to the Detroit Lions and host of the classic Super Bowl XVI, ended up selling for only $500,000 after the Lions abandoned it.  And, what, I wondered, was the point of building the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis if the Colts were going to dump it in only 25 years?  For that matter, what about other huge venues that didn't make it to their 40th anniversaries?  The Kingdome?  Veterans' Stadium?  The NBA arenas in Orlando and Charlotte?

These things got built because, in order to keep their beloved sports teams from moving to some other city (or, in the case of Indianapolis, to steal a team) municipalities had to build new arenas, and build them right now.  Again:  what's the point in redirecting tens -- now hundreds -- of millions of taxpayer dollars on a major building if it's not going to last that many decades?  So the sports team(s) can make millions, not a dime of which goes back to the city?  So the cities and/or states that spend that kind of money can do it again in 20 years?

A 100,000-seat stadium full of dog manure, that's what it is.  I don't care who's spending a billion dollars for a new stadium.  For that much money, the Cowboys and New Meadowlands venues had damned will better withstand a hell of a lot more than a meter of snow.

Fantasy football update:  Well, what'll you know?  Both my teams won this week.

Victory came too late for the Middlemen (7-7), whose struggles kept tracking with those of Antonio Gates' feet.  For once, the Middlemen got a team on its worst week.  Again, the performance was weak, but it was enough for an 84-74 win over the playoff-bound Tin Men.  It didn't matter, alas, as fourth-place No Clue also, relegating the Middlemen to the consolation bracket.

I'm not going to stick God for all the blame for wasting a team as talented as the Middlemen.  [In the family league, top-seeded Anything But Last shares no fewer than five players with them.]  Its fast start surprised me, and also blinded me to the possibility that I could lose key players to injury.  I waited too long to find substitutes, and it hurt.  Also, I never did find a steady defense.  [This week's squad, Oakland, scored zero points.]  The Middlemen's bigger problem, though, was bad luck:  they seemed to catch every opponent on its best week.  As I've discovered to my regret, the most talented team in the league is doomed if it has to rack up 110 Yahoo-standard points to win every week.

On the other side, the news is much happier for the Fluttering Horde (8-6), 111-56 quarterfinal winners over Osogood.  The match was over once the Patriots, whose defense the Horde uses, blew out my beloved Bears.  On Monday, Andre Johnson and Ahmad Bradshaw pitched in 44 points that the Horde really didn't need.  Up in next week's semifinal:  an earlier Horde victim, the Southside Hitmen.  Now that Peyton Manning's earned his way out of my doghouse, I like my chances to finish in some money.

07 December 2010

Tuesday Football: Shoulder leads

So the Pets Jets were irretrievably exposed as fakes last night in Massachusetts.  Normally, I'd dismiss a 45-3 loss by a 9-3 team as an outlier, but they're now running out of secondary personnel.  On a team as dependent on defense as the Jets, that's a staggering blow.  They'll advance to the playoffs, but only because the sick bays filled up faster in Indianapolis and San Diego.

The death of Don Meredith, just a week after Leslie Nielsen passed on, is really saddening.  Too much funny is going away too quickly.

I'm too young to remember Meredith the Dallas Cowboy quarterback, but his years as co-commentator with Howard Cosell made some of the best sports television ever.  "Dandy Don" got Cosell to lighten up just a bit, and Howard conviced Meredith to take himself a bit more seriously.  Those little bits made them a great team, rendered Frank Gifford irrelevant, and made every Monday night game watchable.  If nothing else, I could look forward to hearing Meredith croon out the Willie Nelson chorus that became his signature:
Turn out the lights
The party’s over
They say that
All good things must end
Call it tonight
The party’s over
And tomorrow starts
The same old thing again
Godspeed, Don Meredith.

Fantasy football update:  Success for the Fluttering Horde, more frustration for the Middlemen.

Anything but Last, the Horde's opponent, lost Percy Harvin early, but it turned out not to matter.  The Horde lineup fell only six points short of its optimal score, blowing away my former in-law, 121-102, and stopping a two-game skid.  ABL won the regular-season crown at 10-3, but I'm proud to say that the Horde accounted for two of those losses.  The Horde finished the regular season at 7-6, good for a #6 playoff seed.  Next up: my nephew and the commissioner, Osogood.

The Middlemen also faced an eight-man team, thanks to Brett Farve's injury, but then the Pets Jets screwed up.  Their defense cost me a critical point, and sent the Middlemen crashing to their fourth straight loss, 95-89.  It's also the third loss the 6-7 Middlemen -- who started 4-1 -- have taken to a short-handed opponent.  But for the fact that the team has "allowed" the most fantasy points in its league, I'd have decided to just let Yahoo! set my lineup this week.  As it is, I might be adding streaking Saints RB Christopher Ivory to the team.  If I can pull that off, the Middlemen still have a shot at the playoffs.